Aug 29, 2017

How Long Will a Civil Appeal in the Eleventh Circuit Typically Take?

Judge Grants Motion Striking Inequitable Conduct Defense

There are 13 federal appellate courts called the U.S. Courts of Appeal that sit below the U.S. Supreme Court. These courts hear appeals from 94 federal trial courts, which are called the U.S. District Courts. According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2016 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, total filings in all the U.S. Courts of Appeals climbed 15% in the last fiscal year to 60,357. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was established by Congress in 1981 and has jurisdiction over federal cases originating in… Read more

Apr 8, 2013

When Is a Published Decision Not Binding Precedent?

A practitioner might expect that a published decision appearing in the official reports of the Georgia Court of Appeals is binding precedent.  However, Georgia practice contains a wrinkle that affects the ability of a practitioner to cite a published decision as precedent.  It may be a wrinkle to which practitioners need to pay closer attention. The Georgia Court of Appeals has 12 judges, and an overwhelming majority of cases are decided by panels consisting of three judges.  Under Rule 33(a) of the Georgia Court of Appeals, a decision by a three-judge panel is “physical precedent only” with respect to any… Read more

Mar 28, 2013

The United States Supreme Court Takes Another Look at Class Actions

Because the United States Supreme Court decides so few cases in a year, it cannot rule on every case in which the Court might perceive error.  Instead, the Court will focus its attention on particular areas of law and periodically change that focus.  The United States Supreme Court is going through a phase of focusing its attention on class action litigation.  The Supreme Court appears to not like what it sees going on in the lower courts and is issuing decisions intended to require the lower courts to more rigorously apply the requirements of certifying a class.  In Comcast Corp…. Read more

Mar 20, 2013

The Supreme Court Removes a Limit on Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Class Actions

In Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, Case No. 11-1450 (decided Mar. 19, 2013), the United States Supreme Court removed a potential limit on the jurisdiction of federal courts over class actions.  The Court held that a potential class representative could not attempt to stipulate to the recovery of a lesser amount of damages in order to avoid hitting the threshold for a federal court’s exercising jurisdiction over the class action.  The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) gives federal courts jurisdiction over class actions in which there is minimal diversity between the parties (one plaintiff and one defendants… Read more

Mar 19, 2013

Problems With The Preservation of Evidence

In our digital world in which images and data can be stored almost without limit, courts are frequently having to address the problem when someone has an obligation to preserve an item for a potential lawsuit.  The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed this recurring issue in Powers v. Southern Family Markets of Eastman, LLC, Case No. A12A2382 (decided March 18, 2013). In a number of cases in recent years, the Georgia Court of Appeals has had to address when the party must preserve a recording taken by a video surveillance camera in a slip and fall case.  The Powers… Read more

Feb 25, 2013

Merger Activities by Local Hospital Authority Not Immune From Antitrust Review

In Federal Trade Comm’n v. Phoebe Putney Health Sys., Inc., Case No. 11-1160 (decided Feb. 19, 2013), the United States Supreme Court ruled that the purchase of a hospital by a local public hospital authority in Georgia was subject to review under the federal antitrust laws. The case involved the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County, which was created under Georgia’s Hospital Authorities Law.  The Authority operated one hospital in Albany, Georgia as a private, non-profit corporation.  The Authority entered into a contract to purchase a second hospital in Albany.  Together, the two hospitals accounted for 86% of the market for… Read more

Feb 6, 2013

Summary Judgment and the Interested Witness

In its recent decision in Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, Case No. 12-11397 (decided Feb. 5, 2013), the Eleventh Circuit addressed the recurring issue of how to use the testimony of an interested party in the context of a motion for summary judgment.  The Court offered a strong ruling that such testimony must be credited. Writing for the panel, Judge Carnes noted that in early common law practice, parties and others with an interest in the outcome of the case were incompetent to testify and excluded as witnesses.  However, courts long ago abandoned such a position. The Feliciano case… Read more

Jan 28, 2013

Age Discrimination and the “Cat’s Paw” Liability Theory

In Sims v. MVM, Inc., Case No. 11-14481 (decided Jan. 17, 2013), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed how to apply the “cat’s paw” theory of liability in an age discrimination case. The “cat’s paw” theory works like this.  Supervisor A terminates an employee.  There is no evidence that Supervisor A had any discriminatory animus towards the employee.  However, Supervisor B, who allegedly had discriminatory animus, induced Supervisor A to terminate the employee.  Supervisor A allegedly acted as a mere “cat’s paw” to give effect to the discrimination animus of Supervisor B, making the employer… Read more

Jan 25, 2013

The Eleventh Circuit Answers The Question: When Is a Deal a Deal?

The case law in most states includes a line of cases arising out of failed corporate acquisitions.  The typical case goes like this.  The parties sign a letter of intent to pursue a merger or acquisition.  The letter of intent states that the deal is not binding until the parties sign a definitive agreement.  The parties never sign a definitive agreement and the deal is cancelled.  A disappointed party claims that, despite the language of the letter of intent, the parties had reached an enforceable deal.  In St. Joseph Hosp., Augusta, Georgia, Inc. v. Health Mgmt. Assoc., Inc., Case No…. Read more

Dec 20, 2012

Property Management Company is Not a “Debt Collector” Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

 In Harris v. Liberty Community Management, Inc., Case No. 11-14362 (decided December 19, 2012), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a property management company acting pursuant to a management contract with a homeowners association was not a “debt collector” subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) when it attempted to collect assessments on behalf of a homeowners association. The defendant property management company worked for a number of homeowners associations in Atlanta.  The homeowners association at issue in the case had contracted with the company to manage the affairs of the homeowners… Read more